Iowa City Press-Citizen - Turn the Page
By Rachel Gallegos
As one of only a few major Democratic presidential candidates to be against the war from the start, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and his supporters said Wednesday night that it's that kind of judgment that makes him the person who should next lead the United States.
"The hard truth is that the war in Iraq is not about a catalog of many mistakes -- it is about one enormous mistake. The war in Iraq should have never been fought," Obama said to a crowd of about 1,500 at the Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.
Iowa City resident Christopher Baker said Obama's consistent stance on the war is part of the reason he supports the Democratic senator.
"At the beginning, when this war was getting started, he had the judgment to say this is not a good idea," said Baker, 31.
Obama's character also is evident through Obama's words and actions that show his Christian faith, he said.
"I think he takes the high road in politics," Baker said. "He wants to unite people for the common good -- Democrats and Republicans -- and I think that's something that we need."
Introduced by Ted Sorensen, adviser to President John F. Kennedy, Sorensen compared the two young men for the qualities they could both bring to the role of president.
"Judgment is the single most important quality in a president of the United States," Sorensen said. "Kennedy had judgment, Obama has judgment."
Obama came to speak in Coralville exactly five years to the day after first speaking out against the proposed war in Iraq as a United States Senate candidate.
"Some friends of mine advised me at the time to keep quiet. Going to war in Iraq, they pointed out, was popular in the polls," he said. "But I didn't see how Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat. I was convinced that a war would distract us from Afghanistan and the real threat of al-Qaida."
Obama described himself and his goal for the presidency as a change from "conventional Washington thinking."
"If you want rigid ideology, I'm not your man. If you think that fundamental change can wait, then I'm definitely not your man," Obama said. "I offer a different vision for the future."
Like the supporters who introduced him, including Iowa Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, Obama called the 2008 election a turning point in history.
"The American people are going to have to decide: Are we going to turn the clock or turn the page?" he said.
Supporters reiterated this desire for change with some chanting "turn the page" as others cheered during the speech.
Obama said that if he became president he would lead a global effort to secure all loose nuclear materials, make cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015 a goal not only of the United Nations, but also the United States, and close the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp.
"It's time for us to stand up and tell George Bush that the government in this country is not based on the whims of one person. The government is of the people, by the people and for the people," Obama said.
"The American people are not the problem in this country. The American people are the answer," he said.